NOTE: this article is only for people that are dedicated to training. If you make two half-assed training sessions per week comprised of biceps curls and ab work, skip this article. I don’t want to give your lazy ass approval for even less effort,
Take It Easy
Take it as it comes
Don’t move to fast
If you want your love to last…” (c) The Doors
You know, Jim Morrison was right on this one. As well as on many other things. What I’d like to talk about today is obsessiveness. This topic is quite far from my regular strength stuff but the point I want to make will get clearer really soon. I don’t know how about you, but I’m that kind of person that gets addicted quickly and strongly. When I like something, I can do that all day long for weeks, months, years. Often I get too obsessive about this thing and it can lead to undesirable consequences.
For example, when I started experimenting with Rough Strength Method I thought: “Awesome! All the training implements I need can fit one square meter of space. I can train whenever I want. I finally have the freedom”. But after several weeks of proper programming I started doing stupid things. At that time I was absorbing training information like mad. Anytime I saw new exercise that looked interesting (for example, the Bent Press) I felt unstoppable urge to try it. But instead of trying it with low intensity, I went to failure with heavy weights. Of course, my training suffered a lot because of this. Doing such moron things is a big no-no because we don’t have that much recovery ability (well, at least I don’t). That obsessiveness brought me no results and hampered my training progress.
Another example would be my early Planche journey. At that time I was used to training hard, sometimes going to failure (which I don’t recommend, especially in Planche). One day I learnt that you can perform gymnastic static holds every day for faster results (which is, again, not the most optimal way to train them, in my experience). But instead of following prescription for intensity, I decided to try increasing it every day. It was not the brightest idea. Interestingly, I was able to reach 10 second One-Leg Planche Hold like this. Right at that time I started feeling sharp pain in my forearms. Each day it was getting worse and worse. Finally intellect won the stupidity and I searched GymnasticBodies forum for some clues. It turned out that I was in one step from the place where surgery was inevitable. So I kissed goodbye my Planche training for, I guess, 6 months.
Another example was my biggest injury. At that time I had only 16 and 24 kg kettlebells, one of each kind. I got quite proficient with 24 kg bell and started thinking about the ways to increase intensity. One day I found out that you can stack 2 kettlebells in one hand and decided to try it. 24 + 16 = 40 kg. 24 to 40 is a HUGE jump. But the logic behind this was: “If I can do 12-15 reps in Military Press with 24, then I should be able to do One-Arm Jerk with 40 kg”. No. Bad idea. Nevertheless, I managed to do one rep with right hand. We, Ukrainians, are crazy people, you know that. Feeling that I conquered the world I wanted to show my success to my future wife Alina. Without any warm-up I picked up the bells and tried to jerk them overhead. Next thing we both heard was crackle sound in my shoulder and elbow. I managed to finish the rep but the price was too high. I wasn’t able to lift my right arm without pain for 3 months. Of course, no pressing for same amount of time. I couldn’t even sleep on my right side because of pain. Interestingly, I never went to see the doctor.
What’s My Point?
My point is following: anytime you get too obsessed your body (or any force in life) will punish you. It is inevitable. It was true for any area in my life. As soon as I get too anxious about something I pay the price.
Remember this article? If you get in such situation, be patient and take it easy. If you take training or life too seriously, you are missing all the fun. Cure your OCD. You can’t control everything. If you get ill, it will be better to rest for couple of days and return to training fresh, instead of grinding through it. If you have a birthday or any other notable event then go nuts and party all night long. It is your day after all. And it is just one day out of 365. Don’t get too frustrated if you planned to nail that One-Arm Chin-Up today but failed. Next week you’ll get it. Or you will try another progression and still get it soon.
You need to have a plan and try to stick to it as close as possible. But if you fail for some reason that is out of your control then don’t blame yourself. Re-plan and try to make your best.
If you are in doubt whether to train today or not there is one simple test. Do some pull-ups and monitor how you feel. If they are harder than usual then you probably shouldn’t train today.
Are There Any Practical Ways to Fight Obsessiveness?
In my experience, only willpower can help you with fighting it. And willpower should be trained through constant reminder of why are you doing this. You get better at it with time.
Thoughts on Auto-Regulation
I’ve read and heard many debates on whether auto-regulation is real or is it a myth. Here what I can tell you from experience: auto-regulation is real thing once you get in tune with your body. People who say that there is no such thing as auto-regulation are probably the ones who eat crap regularly and perform retarded training.
Regarding diet, intermittent fasting and calorie-counting taught me to hear what my body says. I CAN feel that I’ve eaten too much calories (I get very bloated). I CAN feel that I’ve eaten too much carbs (I get sluggish and too anxious). I CAN feel inflammation caused by particular food.
Regarding training, staying away from failure and classy volume manipulation gave me the opportunity to feel what happens to my body. For example, I CAN feel clearly when it is enough. In addition, lots of repetitions throughout my training career enabled the ability to feel the muscles more. Bodyweight exercises helped controlling my body in space.
One good advice I can give you is to monitor how you feel 10-15 minutes after finishing the training session. If you feel like crap, you’ve done too much. Ideally you should feel over-energized. Someone great (I can’t recall who exactly) once said that after your workout you should feel like you could do it one more time (it is not direct quote but the sense is preserved).
Remember that your life isn’t your past or your future. Your life is what happens to you right now, in this moment. People often get too carried away with their plans or with their past achievements and failures. That is wrong. Now and only now is what matters. Take it easy, don’t get too obsessive and enjoy your life more. You don’t have much time to do it. Thanks for reading.
What is your experience with this topic? Do you get obsessive easily?